Is it true that an auto is always a car, and a mobile is always a phone?

Is an automobile exactly the same as an auto?

Does auto / automobile refer to a car with automatic transmission, a self-driving car, or just any car in general? Put it another way, is a human-operated manual transmission car still an auto / automobile?

If an intelligent robot can move around, answer phone calls, drive cars, is that an auto, mobile or automobile?

  • Mobile is also an adjective. As in I am very mobile. Dec 10, 2019 at 3:30

2 Answers 2


An automobile is any kind of car. The first cars were said to "move of themselves" because they were not horse-drawn, not because they didn't need a driver! (The last syllable is pronounced beel because the word originated in France.)

Automobile and auto are, I think, used more in American English than in Britain, where we originally called them motor cars, sometimes abbreviated to motor (but autos, cars and motors are all used in names of companies).

We British abbreviate mobile phone to mobile (Americans call them cell phones). A mobile can also be one of those decorations of small objects or cut-outs hanging on threads so that they turn round when the air moves.


Is it true that ... a mobile is always a phone?

Not always. This is also a mobile:

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